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Have you ever felt unsafe while walking, biking or driving along Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights? The Department of Transportation is hosting a public meeting next week to discuss traffic safety improvements on Franklin between Atlantic Avenue and Empire Boulevard. Community members can attend and suggest ways to improve traveling on the major thoroughfare in community districts eight and nine.

The meeting will take place Wednesday, April 2 from 7 to 9 pm in the President’s Conference Room at Medgar Evers College, located at 1650 Bedford Avenue. Additional info and a DOT contact can be found here on the flyer for the meeting.

Image by DOT

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On this Valentine’s Day weekend, why not show your love for your neighborhood by applying for a Love Your Block grant, which offers up to $1,000 for city residents to beautify their surroundings? In addition to the cash, grant recipients get access to city services from the Departments of Transportation, Parks, Recreation and Sanitation.

Past grantees have focused on projects like graffiti removal, vacant lot cleanup, trash collection, tree planting, traffic safety surveys and other civic-minded improvements. The Citizens Committee for New York City partnered with NYC Service to make the grants a reality. You can find the applications on the committee’s website. The deadline for submission is next Thursday, February 20.

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Over the weekend, The New York Times took a look at 4th Avenue, the traffic-choked thoroughfare, above, where low-slung industrial buildings are yielding to rapidly sprouting glassy residential luxury towers. The new apartments rent for unheard-of amounts, but the avenue remains an eyesore.

With no room left to develop Park Slope, spillover — and a rezoning about a decade ago to allow tall buildings — is driving a frenzy of construction. New one-bedrooms rent for about $2,500 a month and up; a three-bedroom typically starts at about $3,200, according to a survey from Aptsandlofts.com cited in the Times story. Apartments in older walkups in Park Slope go for much less, but the luxury apartments appear to be driving up prices there too. The story quoted a young professional whose landlord recently notified her and her roommates that their rent would be going up.

“The landlord is going to renovate and, quote, ‘raise the rent substantially,’ which will make it cost-prohibitive for three young professional women who make perfectly good money to rent the apartment,” she said. “The price of a one-bedroom in one of the new buildings is equivalent to the price of the three-bedroom we’re renting now, and it’s more than I bring home in a month.”

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Councilmember Stephen Levin and several community groups are organizing a forum on improving street safety in Boerum Hill next Tuesday evening. A variety of speakers will present, then the meeting will break into small groups for attendees to discuss their ideas for creating safer streets.

Residents can also pinpoint problematic locations before the meeting on this online interactive map.

The Boerum Hill Association, Transportation Alternatives, Atlantic Avenue BID, Community Board Six and Park Slope Civic Council will attend the meeting, which will take place February 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Belarusan Autocephalic Orthodox Church at 401 Atlantic Avenue.

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There has already been one victory in the fight for improved pedestrian safety: The speed limit on Prospect Park West where 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein was killed last year was reduced to 25 miles an hour earlier this month. A long, sad story in the New York Times over the weekend about how his death galvanized his parents to become traffic safety activists put ped fatalities into perspective.

Every 30 hours, someone dies from a traffic crash in New York City. Fatalities decreased during the Bloomberg years but increased in the last two years to about 286 in 2013. The majority of deaths are pedestrians and cyclists.

But it used to be worse. In 1990, 701 people died in traffic crashes. In 1929, 1,390 died.

Now activists are pushing to “bring the number to zero, or close to it. It’s a Swedish concept called Vision Zero, and Mayor de Blasio embraced the idea at a news conference in mid-January,” said the Times. The story summarizes the cases of children killed recently by cars, and talks about de Blasio’s support for the initiatives. But it doesn’t mention that the recent targeting of jaywalkers on the Upper West Side led police to rough up an 84-year-old pedestrian.

After a Son’s Death, Parents Channel Their Grief Into Activism [NY Times]
Police Shift Focus From Crime to Traffic Safety [NY Post]
Photo by Leslie Albrecht for DNAinfo

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“This is the scene on my block at Dennett Place right now,” emailed a reader Sunday at 2:37 in the morning. “Evidently there was a water main break and this truck sunk into a hole.” So far, there does not appear to be any damage to the water pipes going into the houses, said our tipster. Dennett Place is a one-block-long street between Luquer and Nelson streets in Carroll Gardens. 

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“Bed Stuy’s a pigsty,” declared DNAinfo, based on the latest report from the mayor’s office. Borough Park, Midwood, Kensington, and parts of Crown Heights and Flatbush weren’t much better, according to the report. In contrast, the Bronx, Queens, and the Upper East Side were sparkling clean.

In Community Board 83, which includes Stuyvesant Heights, only 85.1 percent of the streets were deemed “acceptable.”

Really? We live in Bed Stuy and the streets look pretty good to us, especially in Stuy Heights. Bed Stuy is a huge area, and includes busy areas such as Fulton Street and Nostrand, above, but seems clean compared to the rat- and litter-covered Upper East Side. Maybe the marks are some kind of temporary aberration: Bed Stuy scored 92.8 percent in the early part of the year.

What parts of Brooklyn do you think need cleaning up?

Bed Stuy Streets Some of the City’s Dirtiest, Report Says [DNAinfo]

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We’re only three days into the new administration, but it looks like one really big change is in the works for Brooklyn: Safer streets for pedestrians. As you may recall, the shocking deaths of several children hit by cars near the end of the year in Fort Greene, Park Slope and other neighborhoods galvanized a movement to increase pedestrian safety in the borough. Activists attended the inauguration, where newly appointed DOT chief Polly Trottenberg said pedestrian safety is top of her to-do list, reported the Brooklyn Paper.

When de Blasio was campaigning, he promised to create more 20-mile-an-hour zones, improve at least 50 dangerous intersections and areas, and “prioritize traffic enforcement.” Above, traffic along 4th Avenue.

We think these things would go a long way toward ending these senseless, unnecessary and totally unacceptable pedestrian deaths. Perhaps New York should also consider changing the law to give pedestrians the right of way at all times — in other words, making drivers automatically at fault if they hit a pedestrian. It works in California. What do you think?

Grieving Slope Parents to Hold de Blasio to Promise to End Crash Deaths [Brooklyn Paper]
Trottenberg Meets Parents of Traffic Violence Victims at Inauguration [Streetsblog]
Activists Change Speed Limit Signs in Park Slope to 20 Miles Per Hour [Brownstoner]